Thursday, February 28, 2008

The infamous sentence of Novalis


Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, better known as Novalis, had, in his brief life, many things to say. There is hardly a more abundant book than his Fragments, a bag of startling insights, mad conjectures, fascinating and far-fetched comparisons.

It is difficult to choose a single sentence there. Nevertheless, I shall try. Here it is:

Wir suchen immer das Unbedingte und finden nur Dinge

Which I translate as follows:

We always search for the undetermined and we find always things.

Un-bedingte is an interesting word: the verb bedingen means determine, condition, etc. Sometimes Unbedingte is translated as Absolute, which is also correct, as the absolute is free from conditions.

May we learn the art of looking through things, into the Unbedingte...

2 comments:

andrew said...

On his wikipedia entry I found the following quote:

"Every person who consists of people, is a person raised to the 2nd power - or a genius."

He may have had his own interest in personality shifting.

Fernando Pessoa also sprang to mind.

Polymathicus said...

Excellent! Thanks a lot Andrew.

Yes, it seems that Novalis is a forerunner of Personality Shifting. After your pointer, I must revisit his work asap. More soon...